A Gainesville couple were arrested in Georgia after leaving twin toddlers alone for eight hours, resulting in one of the 3-year-old’s death.
According to a Gainesville Police Department (GPD) release, the incident occurred on Sept. 1 when the officers and Emergency Medical Services responded to the area of 4800 NW 43rd St. to an unresponsive 3-year-old. Emergency responders transported the victim to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
An investigation revealed the victim’s mother, Donrea A. McLaughlin, 22, reported to law enforcement that she discovered the child not breathing and explained to officers that she took a nap, later to be awakened by her boyfriend, Sean D. Lee II, 26, several hours later.
GPD detectives discovered that McLaughlin and Lee left the victim and her twin sibling alone in the home for nearly eight hours. McLaughlin and Lee went to work and did not arrange childcare for the toddlers and the children were not checked on. When the two returned home eight hours later, the victim was unresponsive.
The investigation also revealed a history of neglect and prolonged abuse that contributed to the death of the victim and the injury to the other sibling. The surviving sibling received treatment on the night of the Sept. 1 incident at a nearby hospital.
During the investigation, McLaughlin and Lee left their Gainesville apartment and fled to their previous residence in Atlanta, Georgia. Following their investigation, GPD detectives established probable cause and obtained a warrant for their arrest with a bond set at $4.5 million.
GPD detectives Ranisha Johnson and Desiree Russano worked with Alachua County Warrants detectives and the U.S. Marshals Service Regional Fugitive Task Force to coordinate the arrest of the couple in Atlanta.
McLaughlin and Lee will be extradited from Georgia to the Alachua County Jail. The couple is being charged with murder, two counts of aggravated child abuse and two counts of child neglect.
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is directed to contact Johnson at 352-393-7656 or email her at Johnsonrl@cityofgainesville.org.